Monday, June 11, 2012

The Solution to Every Problem

I was recently discussing Utah's upcoming June 26 primary election with my adult son. (By the way, early voting starts today.) Due to my deeply entrenched political cynicism I remarked that all of the candidates (even those purporting to be libertarian-ish) effectively seek greater government control over our lives.

Some politicians give lip service to preserving and perhaps even expanding personal liberty, but none of them really believe it. At any rate, none of them will ultimately undertake actions that produce this result except as part of a gambit that achieves yet greater control. (Some even use a twisted definition of liberty that is indistinguishable from tyranny, albeit, with a 'benevolent' lilt.) Almost all political candidates believe in expanding the coercive powers of government in some way, although, they may disagree on exactly how the public should be coerced.

I suggested to my son that it is the nature of nearly all members of the political class (and wannabe members of this class) to view government as the natural tool for achieving social solutions, regardless of the nature of the problem. A significant portion of the population agrees, thereby, giving the political class license to pursue this course.

Should it not bother us that the solution to every problem or perceived problem is more government?

The thinking could be summed up like this:

  • In the event of a market failure (or perceived market failure) the answer is more government.
  • In the event of a government failure the answer is more government.
  • In the event of someone doing something you don't like the answer is more government.
  • In the event of someone thinking something you don't like the answer is more government.
  • In the event of someone having 'too much' the answer is more government.
  • In the event of someone having too little the answer is more government.
  • In the event of A the answer is B, where A = any perceived problem and B = more government.
This kind of thinking is the definition of tautology, "a formula which is true in every possible interpretation." All evidences are viewed through a lens that validates the proposition. Any evidence that seems to invalidate the proposition is obviously being viewed incorrectly. If the view cannot be successfully altered, the offending evidence must be discredited and destroyed, if possible, and the offending viewers must be re-educated.

Those that actually believe in expanding liberty generally do not become members of the political class. They have no interest in being part of that culture. Those that do venture into the political culture are either co-opted or spewed out.

When I go to the polls my choices are limited to those that will strive to expand government if given the chance. Some more and some less. I can only hope to make a marginal difference by voting for those that might lean toward the less side of this equation. Even this proposition is problematic. Except for those that have a well established record, it is exceptionally difficult to divine how candidates will act once in office.

We have been admonished to diligently seek for and uphold political actors that are good, honest, and wise (D&C 98:8-10). That's still a tall order. How many people that are good, honest, and wise end up on the ballot? Have you noticed what most successful (and even unsuccessful) political campaigns involve? And how wise can anyone be that espouses forms of tyranny? Sly, perhaps; but wise?

So, it is with frustration that I vote each time I go to the polls. I don't think the scripture cited above means that we can only vote for perfect people. But I don't think I'm demanding perfection of political candidates. It just seems that the selection is always limited to those that lean more or less toward tyranny rather than leaning more toward liberty. It seems like my votes come down to a question of how rapidly we will progress on the path toward tyranny.

Yes, I will vote. In fact, I will vote early. And I will be grateful that I live in a place and at a time where this is possible. But I will still be dissatisfied with the selection.

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